Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia
- n. A burlesque procession formerly held in ridicule of a henpecked husband; a cavalcade headed by a person on horseback representing the wife, with another representing the husband seated behind her, facing the horse's tail and holding a distaff, while the woman belabored him with a ladle. These were followed by a crowd, hooting and making “rough music” with horns, pans, and cleavers. The word commonly appears in the phrase to ride (the) skimmington. Compare the north-country custom of riding the stang.
- n. A disturbance; a riot; a quarrel.
- n. A charivari.
- n. obsolete A person impersonating his/her offending spouse in a procession with the aim of ridicule.
- n. obsolete A ludicrous procession for the purpose of ridiculing (a person's offending spouse).
- n. obsolete A cuckold
GNU Webster's 1913
- n. A word employed in the phrase,
To ride Skimmington; that is to ride on a horse with a woman, but behind her, facing backward, carrying a distaff, and accompanied by a procession of jeering neighbors making mock music; a cavalcade in ridicule of a henpecked man. The custom was in vogue in parts of England.
“Casterbridge were interrupted by an event of such magnitude that its influence reached to the lowest social stratum there, stirring the depths of its society simultaneously with the preparations for the skimmington.”
“This was barred, and while the landlady was unfastening it the conversation about the skimmington was continued in the sitting-room, and reached his ears.”
“Almost at the instant of her fall the rude music of the skimmington ceased.”
“Up to this time he knew nothing of the skimmington-ride.”
“Such was the state of things when the current affairs of Casterbridge were interrupted by an event of such magnitude that its influence reached to the lowest social stratum there, stirring the depths of its society simultaneously with the preparations for the skimmington.”
“Attorney-general, that there was danger of a skimmington between the great wig and the coif, the former having given a flat lie to the latter.”
“Have you, "he inquired, addressing the nearing shape of Jopp," have you seen any gang of fellows making a devil of a noise -- skimmington riding, or something of the sort? ”
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